Jason Cummings believes his former Hibs colleague Liam Henderson was always destined to be a Euro star.
The pair spent a year as team-mates at Easter Road in 2015/16 and also played in the same Scotland Under-21 team.
They have remained close friends ever since and Cummings was delighted, but not surprised, to see his fellow 23-year-old win promotion to Serie A with Verona on Sunday evening.
“Me, Hendo and John McGinn have had a group chat since the Hibs days so we speak every day,” said Cummings. “I was absolutely buzzing for Hendo, I’m so proud of him. He’s taken to Italian football like a duck to water. I call him the culture vulture because he just seems to take new challenges in his stride.
“When we were at Hibs together, I said to him that he had a style of play that was suited to going abroad. He’s cool on the ball, he’s relaxed and he’s a flair player with some lovely touches. He plays with grace. For me, he was always going to go abroad. He suits playing abroad more than he suits playing in the UK. It fits him to a tee.”
Cummings revealed that Henderson, pictured, who signed a four-year deal with Verona last summer after joining from Bari, is revelling in the Italian lifestyle. “He absolutely loves it,” said Cummings. “I’ve never seen someone adapt so well. I’ve gone down to England but I’m a bit of a home bird who likes being around my family and friends. Hendo’s just taken it in his stride being abroad. He speaks Italian, you always see him with his little coffee, and even his clothes are Italian – I think he’s starting to turn a bit Italian. His girlfriend goes out to see him which probably helps him but he’s just loving life and he’s loving his football, as you can see.”
Cummings is eager to head over and see his friend play in Italy’s top flight next season. “I’m choking to get over and see him, watch him play in a game and get a wee pizza and pasta with him,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ll get over and see him when he’s up against the likes of Juventus to see he gets on against Ronaldo and boys like that. It’s good to see a fellow Scotsman going over there and proving Scottish players can play at a good level abroad. But Hendo’s always been capable of that. As much as it’s a great achievement, I’m not surprised he’s done so well abroad. He was always destined for good things.”
The next step for Henderson, according to Cummings, is full international recognition. “He’s got to be on the list to get a Scotland call-up,” said the Nottingham Forest striker. “I’m surprised he’s not had one so far because he deserves it. He must be on Steve Clarke’s radar now.”